Rather than settle or move to the suburbs, a family of seven decides to build their dream house on an unconventional lot.
By Jason Tesauro, February 16, 2016
“Go to the end of East Broad Street and we’re the house on your right.” That’s how my wife Amy and I give directions to our place. At least that’s the plan once we have an actual house. Right now, all you’ll find is our slim spit of land squeezed between two dwellings where Broad Street dead-ends just past 36th Street and Chimborazo Park.
In early 2013, we moved into a rental down the street from Libby Hill Park with the intention of buying. By November 2014, we still hadn’t found the right house in Church Hill. We’d nearly settled on something up 27th Street, but we couldn’t reconcile the equation: real estate for seven humans either fit our budget or our style, but not both. Determined to forsake the suburban compromise, Amy ran some numbers and a new idea emerged: “Instead of buying something that half-way works,” she said, “why not spend a little more to build exactly what we want?” It meant tightening the belt for a spell, but it also meant designing from scratch a custom home for us and our five children without sacrificing aesthetics or our street cred. But good luck finding land in Richmond’s hottest neighborhood.